Striking the Shayrat airbase was the right thing to do

Diplomatic agreements are some of the best tools we have, but we need to be ready to respond appropriately when it fails.

Using nerve gas on civilians is not ok. Assad's use of chemical weapons clearly violates an agreement made between the U.S., Syria and Russia. Conducting a targeted strike on the Shayrat airfield was the correct decision.

Students who are interested in international relations and world affairs should be aware of the complex reasoning and background behind these strikes. 

We cannot allow the Assad regime to use chemical weapons without consequences, and we cannot allow them to break agreements with the U.S. and get away with it.

Our generation will decide how we handle incidents such as this, and I hope that we are able to realize that, when diplomacy fails, the use of force may be necessary.

When Syria acknowledged that it possessed chemical weapons in 2012, President Obama drew a “red line” and threatened to attack Syria. Shortly after, a plan was drawn up by Russia and the U.S. to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons in order to avoid conflict.

In 2013, a UN resolution was passed, which required the scheduled destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Russia would be heavily involved in ensuring that these chemical weapons were destroyed.

Diplomacy should always be the first option. The agreement with Syria and Russia greatly reduced tensions and avoided a conflict at the time. Diplomatic agreements are some of the best tools we have, but we need to be ready to respond appropriately when they fail.

Making agreements with dictatorships is always risky. If they expect they can get away with it, they will often break agreements. In response, we could issue sanctions or denouncements, however, this often does not deter their resistance.

The Assad regime and its allies still deny that Syria has chemical weapons and say that the agreement has been upheld. Despite this, evidence shows that it was almost certainly Assad’s forces who intentionally used chemical weapons.

The Russian personnel in Shayrat, where the chemical attacks were probably launched from, likely knew the strikes were going to be carried out and gave Assad the green light. 

This would mean that Russia was complicit with Syria violating the agreement and international law. If they didn't know then they have much less influence with the Assad regime than previously thought. 

Russia was either complicit with or negligent about the chemical weapons that the Assad regime used.

The legality of this strike is complicated. Under the guidelines of the Constitution, Congress is supposed to declare war. Despite this, U.S. Presidents have been side stepping Congress and going to war without their approval for decades. The U.S. hasn't actually declared war since WWII, even though we have been involved in numerous conflicts.

This isn't to say that attacking other nations without the approval of congress is justified, but this action certainly isn't uncharted territory in the U.S.

The missile strike which was conducted was one of the less destructive options. The 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were really meant to send a message. 

The U.S. could have sent fighter jets to attack air bases, but that would have put pilots' lives at risk and had the potential to greatly escalate the conflict if a jet was shot down.

The missile strike sent the message that the U.S. would retaliate if Assad broke agreement not to use chemical weapons, at a relatively low risk.

Getting into a full on conflict in Syria would be an absolute disaster. It would put us in the same situation that we were in during the Iraq War. The missile strikes were a limited action and would not get us much more involved than we already are in the Syrian Civil War.

In reality the strikes probably would not even make that big of a difference in the war's outcome.

“The strikes themselves probably won’t have a dramatic effect but what we are seeing is some sense that the Trump administration is gonna be far less hesitant to use force.” Jeffrey Kubiak, senior fellow for the Center on the Future of War, said.

This incident was a small part of an incredibly complex conflict that has taken the lives of nearly half a million people. In the end they probably aren't going to lessen Assad’s chances of winning the war.

Sometimes force needs to be used in order to protect our interests. While I disagree with the President on many issues I believe he, and his administration, made the right decision in this circumstance.

Students interested in world affairs should recognize that, although diplomacy should be the first plan of action, sometimes the use of force is the correct response. In the future, diplomacy may fail, and it is important not to be afraid in responding with military action. 


Reach the columnist at morganbwillis@gmail.com or follow @Morganwillis37 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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